After a decade, the eleventh bishop tapped him as vicar-general, ordaining him to the episcopacy and seeing him off to a diocese of his own. And now, a decade later, the native son is heading home as the twelfth bishop.
It's amazing to think that over the entire history of this city, God has called only 12 men to lead his church.This morning, Pope Benedict appointed Zubik, 57, after a 14-month vacancy created by the promotion of Donald Wuerl, to the archdiocese of Washington in May 2006.
Zubik's return to his hometown's top ecclesiastical post indicates Rome's firm placet in the administration whose day-to-day operations he ran for seven years before heading to Green Bay in 2003.
So who is Zubik? He was born in Ambridge, PA. Zubik attended Pittsburgh's St Paul (College) Seminary and Duquesne University before heading to Baltimore's St Mary's Seminary, from which he was ordained in 1975. After serving in parishes, Catholic education and picking up a Master's in Educational Administration from Duquesne, he became administrative secretary to then-Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua in 1987, continuing in the post when then-Bishop Donald Wuerl arrived the following year.
In 1991, the eleventh bishop gave his eventual successor the Clergy Personnel brief; five years later, after a brief period as chancellor, he became vicar-general and General Secretary, rising to the top administrative post of the diocese of 820,000.
Described as a "workhorse", Pope John Paul II appointed Zubik auxiliary bishop in 1997; until his episcopal elevation, he served as a spiritual director at St Vincent's Seminary in Latrobe alongside his diocesan duties. In 2003, the late pontiff promoted him to Green Bay to succeed the retiring Bishop Robert Banks.
In the Wisconsin diocese, Zubik honed in characteristic style on its pressing challenges, working particularly toward ensuring a sound future in the areas of Catholic education and priestly vocations. As with other prelates nationwide who've been successful in recruiting more men for formation, the bishop's intense personal investment has resulted in an increase of seminary candidates for Green Bay's flock of 350,000. The vocation question is particularly crucial to Pittsburgh's outlook -- a declining number of priests has resulted in pastors now being split between multiple parishes, and a religious sister was installed as the diocese's first "parish life collaborator".
The appointment adds to the longstanding reports that, especially in cases of prominent posts, Benedict XVI is significantly more inclined to give near-decisive weight to the leanings of the office's prior occupant. On the recent release of Pope Benedict's motu proprio on the pre-Conciliar celebration of the liturgy, Zubik told his Green Bay fold that while he "wish[ed] to state emphatically that the Mass is not changing," adherents of the newly-termed "extraordinary" use of the Roman rite "have been given and have found a place to worship suitably in our own diocese," specifically through the ministry there of the 1962-exclusive Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest.
According to the provisions of Canon Law, Zubik's installation as bishop of Pittsburgh must take place within two months of this morning's appointment. Along these lines, a late September installation date has already been foreseen.
UPDATE: Homecoming/installation date announced for 28 September in St Paul's Cathedral; Noon Mass TODAY at adjoining St Mary of Mercy church.
Constant updates on the P-G's morning piece.